Scorching hot English summer weather welcomed the ‘ramblers’ to the fourth Ramblin’ Man Fair in Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent, England on June 30, but not to worry, the beer and cold cider were in plentiful supply as usual, as was the shade.
Before the festival there had been some grumbles among ramblers about this and that but the organization of the event went like clockwork and everything that had been promised was there present and correct. The beautiful weather was a bonus.
There were too many bands and performances to give deserved long and flowing reviews to, but Gorilla Riot, if I dare say (many people had different favorites) just about edged it on the Rising Stage. Among the other more established acts that went down well were No Hot Ashes to be followed by great sets in no particular order from Myles Kennedy, Steve Earle, Cadillac Three, and Skinny Molly (their version of “Free Bird” sent shivers through the festival site.) Steel Panther pleased those who like that sort of thing and there were many other great bands but space restrictions here make me keep it short.
Headlining the Main Stage, nearly 50 years after forming, were the incomparable Mott The Hoople. There have been two previous goes at reforming the band, but with original members. This time it was the turn of Ariel Bender, A.K.A. Luther Grosvenor, and Morgan Fisher to join main man Ian Hunter on stage. On the first two rounds the band had played down their Glam Rock image of their later years. This time they brought the Glam with them, sauntering on stage with Morgan Fisher to your left as you looked at the stage in his keyboard collared jacket and Ariel Bender to the right in his snazzy suit, beret and low slung guitar. Ian Hunter commanded the centre with his ever-present shades, hat, two piece suit and shoelace tie, even the Maltese cross guitar was brought out for “Walkin’ With A Mountain.”
Behind them was the might of Hunter’s full time solo band, the Rant Band, allowing the stars up front full reign to add their own personal glitter to the show. The band started deceptively quietly with the opening to Don McLean’s “American Pie” until the volume rocked up when the lines rang out, “the day that music died”, or did it? When with a mighty blast, “The Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll” rent the air asunder and any thoughts that these guys were too old to headline a rock show (Ian Hunter has just celebrated his 79th birthday) were scattered to the winds.
As in the old days, Ariel Bender scampered across the stage like a man demented, ripping solos from his guitar at will while enticing the audience to higher fever pitches. Morgan Fisher meanwhile hammered the keys on his piano as if he was determined to make sure the poor instrument would never make it through the night.
All the favourite tunes were performed but perhaps the best was kept for last when the band let it all hang out to a twenty minute medley of their most rocking songs, followed by their biggest hit, the David Bowie penned “All The Young Dudes” and finally, as can only be appropriate as it was Saturday night, the band left the stage to “Saturday Gigs”, leaving the crowd singing “Goodbye” long after the band members had exited the stage.
American Pie/Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll
Rest In Peace
I Wish I was Your Mother
Roll Away The Stone
Walkin’ With A Mountain
Medley (Jerkin’ Crocus/One Of The Boys/Rock’n’Roll Queen/Crash Street Kids/Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On/Violence)
All The Young Dudes
Note: Written by Mott The Cat.